I had a sudden vision at the farmers market as I beheld the trays and trays of perfect, jewel-like strawberries. I would make jam. And I would layer that jam into sweet breakfast rolls and bake them until golden. And then I would smear those rolls with sweet cream cheese frosting. It was meant to be. And it was done.
Don't worry — making your own jam is not actually a requirement for this recipe. Your favorite store-bought jam is totally fine. But if you are so inclined, or if you have emptied your wallet for more summer strawberries than you know what to do with, make a quick refrigerator jam. It takes about 10 minutes and you don't need to fuss with canning. Here's how:
Now, I need to tell you straight-up that this is a messy recipe. There was a point at which I looked down at my jam-covered counter and my jam-covered hands and wondered if I was making a terrible, strawberry-wasting mistake.
Stay strong. Be bold. Crave the reward. Also, wear an apron. The strawberry jam will squish out of the rolls when you cut them — that's fine. Just transfer the spirals to the baking pan, spoon up any jam that's been left behind, and tuck it back between the doughy folds.
I originally thought I'd add fresh blueberries and serve this for a special red-white-and-blue 4th of July breakfast, but the blueberries tend to burst and make the dough soggy. Instead, tuck a few blueberries into the tops of the rolls about midway through baking — they don't usually burst during this short spell in the oven and you still get some "blue" in your patriotic breakfast.
Of course, you can make these rolls with any jam you desire. It's a great way to use up the rest of your jam stash before the new canning season starts, or to give a really special jam its proper glory. Or, you know, make it with Smuckers. These rolls will make you very happy no matter what.
Sweet Rolls with Strawberry Jam
For the sweet rolls:
1 cup 2% or whole milk
2 1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (or another teaspoon vanilla extract)
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
1 cup strawberry jam, store-bought or homemade
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, optional
For the frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
1/4 cup whole milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Warm the milk for 30 seconds in the microwave, just until warm to the touch. If necessary, warm for another 30 seconds. Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let this stand for a minute or two until the yeast has dissolved.
Add the softened butter, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and almond extracts, and 1 cup of the flour to the bowl with the milk and yeast. Beat on low speed for a minute or two until the eggs are broken and the butter is mixed in. You should have a smooth batter with a few lumps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the rest of the flour, beat a few seconds to mix, then switch to a dough hook and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. When finished, the dough will hold together in a fairly smooth ball and feel slightly tacky to the touch. (Alternatively, turn the dough out on the counter and knead by hand for 7 to 10 minutes.)
At this point, you can cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough overnight, or let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When ready to shape the rolls, spray a 13x9-inch baking pan or two 9-inch pie pans with oil and set aside. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and press or roll it into a rectangle roughly 10 inches tall by 15 inches wide.
Here's where things start to get messy! Spoon the jam onto the dough and spread into a thin, even layer over the dough, leaving an inch of bare dough at the top and bottom (along the 15-inch sides). Begin rolling up the dough, trying to keep as much of the jam between the folds as possible. Use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut the log into 12 equal-sized rolls. The jam will definitely squish out — that's OK. Re-spiral the individual rolls if you need to, doing your best to keep as much jam inside the rolls as possible, and then transfer the rolls to the prepared baking pans. Scoop up any jam that's squished out on the counter with a spoon and tuck it back into the rolls.
Loosely cover the rolls and let them rise until puffed and pillowy, 45 to 60 minutes. About 20 minutes before they're finished rising, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position.
Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the rolls are golden-brown on top and the jam looks thickened. If you're adding blueberries, remove the tray from the oven partway through cooking and poke the blueberries into the tops of the rolls between the folds; continue baking. Let the finished rolls cool for a few minutes on the counter while you make the frosting.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, milk, and vanilla for the frosting. If your cream cheese was a little cool and you see little lumps in the frosting, increase the mixing speed and keep mixing until the frosting smooths out. Add more milk if you'd like a thinner, more pourable frosting.
Spread the frosting over the warm rolls and serve. Cover any leftover rolls and keep at room temperature for a day or two, or refrigerate for a few days longer.
- This recipe makes a thick layer of creamy frosting. If you don't like that much, cut the frosting in half.